Hatem Ben Arfa ended Newcastle’s wait for a Premier League goal after 411 minutes to hand Alan Pardew a precious 1-0 victory over Fulham at St James’ Park.
The France international produced a piece of individual magic four minutes from time to create half a yard of space and rifle a stunning left-foot shot past the helpless David Stockdale to claim a first league win of the season.
Until his last-gasp intervention, it looked like being another frustrating afternoon for Pardew and his players as chances came and went without the deadlock being broken.
Papiss Cisse saw a 78th-minute header come back off the crossbar and Yoan Gouffran, who passed up a glorious opportunity against West Ham last weekend, glanced a header harmlessly wide with the goal with his mercy after Yohan Cabaye had been introduced to a mixed reception as a second-half substitute.
But Ben Arfa’s inspiration proved enough to send Newcastle into the international break with the win they craved, although with Cabaye’s future unresolved and a desperate search for reinforcements ongoing.
Newcastle dominated for long periods as Fulham arrived prepared to soak up what pressure their hosts could muster and then hit them on the break.
However, the killer instinct which has deserted since the end of last season continued to be conspicuous by its absence as a series of openings, albeit few of them clear-cut, went begging.
Mathieu Debuchy and Cisse were both denied by Stockdale before the break, and the keeper did well to claim Ben Arfa’s deflected 62nd-minute effort.
Pardew sent on loan signing Loic Remy, the only new face to arrive at St James’ Park so far this summer, with 16 minutes remaining, and his arrival prompted a fresh assault on the Fulham goal, although ultimately to no avail.
And it might have been even worse for the 52-year-old when Adel Taarabt was presented with the ball by Fabricio Coloccini 15 yards out, although keeper Tim Krul, who had earlier clawed away Bryan Ruiz’s goal-bound free-kick, saved once again.